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Nov18TueLearning to rely on God as we advance his kingdom. November 18, 2014 by Commissioner Susan McMillan
After being away from the territory for 11 years, I was finding it difficult to come up with a helpful title for this column. The editor-in-chief suggested Onward, and I think this says something important for us all, whether we are joining the Movement or have been on the way for a long time. An army must advance; to remain stagnant is never a good option. When riding a bicycle, you need to keep moving forward or you will lose your balance and fall off (at least that's how I remember it).
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But it's not helpful to keep going just for the sake of momentum. You need a direction. Paul uses the analogy of a race to describe the Christian life. We are running toward a goal, a prize. “I do not run like someone running aimlessly,” he says (1 Corinthians 9:26). It's important to have a clear direction, to know where we are headed. The writer to the Hebrews said, “Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus” (Hebrews 12:1-2).
We need a purpose. As God's people, wanting to improve our spiritual lives and accomplish something for the kingdom, we should have personal goals. At the same time, as a church, we should have corporate goals; each corps should know where they are going and have plans to reach their goals.
On the personal side, I think about King David in the Old Testament. From the time he was anointed by the prophet Samuel, at the direction of God's Holy Spirit, he had personal goals:
- To become king of Israel
- To govern well
- To build up the holy city of Jerusalem
- To build a temple for the worship of Jehovah
David worked toward these goals throughout his life. Though he stumbled at times, he learned to rely on God and kept going, reaching one goal and then fixing his attention on the next. The last goal eluded him, and it became a legacy to his son, King Solomon, but the others were achieved by God's grace and power and David's onward-looking attitude.
As the people of God, we should be onward-thinkers as well, moving his church forward in accordance with his will. Throughout the first part of their history, the people of Israel had one over-arching goal—to reach and inhabit the Promised Land. After leaving Egypt, this goal was clear, but they took their eyes off God. They ended up going in circles for 40 years, until they refocused on their goal under the leadership of Joshua. They crossed the Jordan River and took the Promised Land, one city at a time.
Every Salvation Army corps should be clear about where it is headed and by whose power it advances. When we take our eyes off God and focus on activities or structures instead of transforming lives and communities, we tend to go in circles.
God has work for us to do. He wants us to advance his kingdom on earth, and he wants us to be instrumental in winning the world for Jesus. Onward is a good word for us today.
Commissioner Susan McMillan took up responsibility as territorial commander of the Canada and Bermuda Territory on September 1, 2014. Follow Commissioner McMillan at Facebook.com/susanmcmillantc and Twitter.com/salvationarmytc.